Gym bunnies listen up: Tips for staying on track with your #bodygoals

Going to the gym is only half the battle won if bad habits are following you into your daily routine.  Getting those killer abs and maintaining them needs you to make sure you work for your body, even outside of the gym.  Fitness enthusiast Matthew McClure takes us through the paces.

It's all about the form

If it feels wrong, it probably is. Take a look around you at gym and see how other people are using their bodies during an exercise. Anything that looks or feels uncomfortable means that you're forcing your body into a position or form that is bad for you. This could not only lead to injury and set your progress back, but bad form during an exercise also means that you're actually not working that muscle group properly. If you're ever unsure, ask a personal trainer, biokineticist or simply check out an online how-to workout video on that particular exercise to ensure that you're doing it properly.

Pro tip: Use lighter weights (on the machine or freeweights) and focus on getting your form right, then move up in weight once you feel comfortable.

Sleep, sleep, sleep

If you're not properly rested, you won't be able to put the right amount of energy into your gym session. It's tough to get the right amount of sleep in today's fast paced and hectic lifestyle but an adequate amount of rest is crucial to rebuilding torn muscle fibres after a hectic workout, as well as for prepping you for your next session. Try to get eight to nine hours of sleep each night.

Pro tip: Struggling to drift off? A cup of warm rooibos tea with honey and a good book help to get your ZZZs flowing. Avoid interacting with any tech (cellphones and TVs are a no-no) for about an hour before bed.

Eat your heart out

You could be pushing weights like an Olympian, but if you're not getting adequate nutrients into your body, you're wasting your time. If you're looking to tone and shape, avoid carb-loaded foods like white bread and white rice. Limit your sugar intake as much as possible and keep an eye out for 'health' foods and drinks that contain high levels of sugar to boost taste. Protein is essential in any workout routine. It helps muscle fibres repair themselves and become stronger, meaning that you can push yourself harder in your next session. Focus on lean protein like eggs, chicken breasts and lean red meat and keep the salt to a minimum. Power veggies and fruit, like broccoli, spinach, blueberries, bananas and certain nuts provide omega oils, vitamins and minerals that are essential as any part of a healthy eating program.

Pro tip: Certain pharmacies stock a wide variety of supplements that can aid in boosting your energy levels and make getting the right amounts of protein and other nutrients into your body much easier. Always check with your GP and a personal trainer before starting on a supplement program.

About seven years ago, Matthew made the decision to drop the cigarettes, wine and white bread (well, maybe a little wine now and then), to overhaul his body. Between managing magazines at one of SA's leading media companies and doing his Masters in History of Art, you'll mainly find him on the weights floor at the nearest gym.

Instagram: @playingforkeeps

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